CollegeHumor.com can be something of a mixed bag, ranging from genuinely insightful satire to the kind of “humor” most appreciated by drunken fratboys. The “Adam Ruins Everything” series leans more toward the former category, even if Adam Conover can sometimes take the title a little bit too much to heart and start to get lost in his own smugness.
Below is an example of Conover at his best, and it’s one that will make some Dogster readers nod their head in enthusiastic agreement and others start gathering the torches and pitchforks. This episode takes on the problems inherent with “purebred” dogs using a good combination of snark and facts that makes the discussion as a whole more accessible to people who might otherwise not be familiar with the controversy.
Even among writers here at Dogster, there’s a lot of disagreement about professional breeding. To some, breeders are nothing less than devils incarnate, and there is no legitimate place for them. For others, breeders who operate under proper regulation and ethical standards serve a valid purpose. But either way, it’s hard to deny that there are a lot of issues with breeding as it exists today.
Conover points out problems with how many purebreds suffer from levels of inbreeding that would make people cringe if it were happening between human beings. “When you hear ‘Purebred,’ he says, “you should think ‘Inbred.’ Kennel clubs prohibit purebreds from ever mating outside their own breed and often mate them with their own parents and siblings. One study found that 10,000 Pugs had the same genetic diversity as 50 individuals.”
Here, I have to admit that I have an inherent suspicion of the phrase “one study found…” because it’s often used to give a vague kind of respectability to stuff that’s pure BS. If I could change this video in one way, it would be to add a list of sources to the end credits. However, one of the first things I check out when confirming a study is how big the sample is. Ten thousand is a pretty respectable size to draw a solid conclusion.
From there, he goes on to talk about the health problems that are caused by inbreeding: “Sixty percent of Golden Retrievers die of cancer,” he says. “A third of King Charles Spaniels have skulls that are too small for their brain. Great Danes are so huge that their hearts can’t support their bodies.”
Beneath the light-hearted tone, Conover sometimes sounds almost militant about animal rights:
“Our insistence that these dogs live up to our arbitrary standards is causing them to get sick and die. As much as you love the Bulldog, the fact that it exists at all is borderline animal abuse.”
Despite my complaints about the lack of sourcing to all these stats, a lot of the problems that Conover points out are already well-documented. In 2013, Gizmodo made some great animated GIFs showing just how much individual dog breeds have changed in the last 100 years.
There are other problems besides inbreeding and health issues, though. Breeds gain and lose popularity in waves, and that can be bad for individual dogs as well as the breed at large. Earlier this year, we wrote about how the Tibetan Mastiff suddenly went from a status symbol selling for more than $250,000 in China to being sold en masse for meat. It’s easy to say “Oh, that’s China,” but similar problems happen here in America. Once a breed loses its popularity, shelters often find themselves flooded with discarded dogs. It’s such a common problem that shelters and rescue organizations expect it as soon as they see a particular breed becoming popular.
Take a look at the whole video below. What do you think? Is this exactly the sort of thing we need to hear more often, or do you think that Conover is merely exaggerating to make a popular video?
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