Dog shows are not for dog lovers but for moneymakers and charlatans


Maneka Gandhi


(Bihar Times) I detest dog shows almost as much as horse races. No one goes to the races for the horses. They  go to parade their strange outfits, drink, bet and network .

Dog shows bring together all the country’s illegal dog breeders.  These black marketers buy and sell dogs without paying tax, bribe customs to smuggle them in, post shady advertisements on the net and belong in jail – which is where I will put them should I ever have a chance at making a truly pro-India policy.

Dog show participants are pure evil. They are the reason why so many pedigreed dogs are inbred into strange shapes. You have grotesque experiments like Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel and Poodle) and Labradoodle (labrador and poodle)  which become legitimized as breeds by Dog Clubs in spite of the fact that both suffer from debilitating diseases. Each species has been invented by killing hundreds of puppies till one matches the right breed specifications. The breed standards of these clubs and shows are peculiar, so tall and no taller, a particular colour.  A woman politico from Rajasthan breeds large dogs. When I told her about Gudiya , the blind and deaf albino Great Dane we rescued from a gutter, she said that every second Great Dane pup was born that way and killed because  the “rules” allowed only dark colored Great Danes. Breed standards deal only with looks not health. Most of these animals are desperately sick with genetic defects. They have trouble seeing, some are deaf, some have hip problems, some have enlarged hearts, others can’t breathe. People who buy them as a novelty tire of their sickness and  throw them out. They land in shelters, which kill them if they are unable to find them homes. In America alone 3 million dogs are killed every year – all of them pedigreed pooches from breeders.

Would you like to enter a beauty pageant with your ears and tail cut off and your  hair in ringlets? Would you want to be turned from happy animal into an acrobat so your owner can charge more money by selling your sperm or babies? Here is what one dog show regular has to say: “ I train them and then get to be judged against others based on how well I trained them. It is such a bonding experience! “  She goes to dog shows to bond ??? Try a bar, instead! Dog owners claim that if their dogs go willingly to these events. That’s the worst excuse I’ve ever heard. It’s like saying if rabbits did not want to have their eyes torn out in shampoo experiments they would object to them. Animals are the victims of our folly. “ A dog show is a big fun dog party for them,“  says one owner. Such a great party that all the dogs are tightly tethered the whole day, bark endlessly, have their tongues hanging out with stress and will bite anyone who ventures close, forget mixing or playing.

Champion dogs are not family dogs that are loved and shown off. They are commercial properties. Although the prize money is modest, winning dogs become valuable for breeding purposes. Often they are owned by  separate owners who share the stud feeds, kept isolated in kennels so that they won’t become attached to any one person,  trained on a daily basis,  and carted in crates from show to show. Its shareholders do not even meet him.

There are other deliberate cruelties inflicted in the highly competitive world of dog shows.  Experts have exposed the practice of starving dogs in order to meet strict weight  limits. Owners confess that they often stop feeding the dog weeks before an event. They even deny the animal water till they have been weighed and then only a little to prevent dehydration. “ I am inundated with owners and judges who say they are seeing dehydrated or malnourished dogs on the scales, all for the sake of a rosette. It sounds funny to think of dogs having the same issues as fashion models but it is a serious welfare issue. For these owners it is all about winning and nothing else".  says Beverly Cuddy, editor of  Dogs Today.

A 2008 documentary called Pedigree Dogs Exposed  revealed disgusting dog show practices. This resulted in BBC boycotting Crufts the largest dog show in the world ,in March 2009 . Advertisers have followed suit. Pedigree Foods has withdrawn sponsorship on the grounds that many of the breeds being shown are susceptible to disease and should not be sold or promoted  including   basset hounds, Clumber spaniels, Dogues de Bordeaux, mastiffs, Neopolitan mastiffs, pekes, bloodhounds, sharpeis, St Bernards, chows, German shepherds, bulldogs and Rhodesian ridgebacks.  Although the Kennel Club has promised to review all 209 pedigree breeds in the UK to determine their susceptibility to disease,  it has refused to ban any from being shown on the grounds that the breeders and exhibitors would get upset!    

America Kennel Club which regulates USA’s dog show industry earns its money from registrations and letting space to producers of dog accessories. The more puppies produced,, the richer the AKC gets, the more dog shows it holds and the more puppies are purchased. A vicious cycle of greed and cruelty.  The AKC claims that its inspectors check out breeders before affiliation is granted. Yet the most despicable puppy millers claim AKC membership.  The AKC colludes with breeders to mass-produce puppies. Kennel Clubs support every kind of cruelty. A proposal to regulate dog tethering and make constant confinement an offence has been opposed by the American Kennel Club. A  well known breeder of champion show dogs has just been convicted of 60 counts of animal cruelty and ordered to pay $125,000 for the re-homing of 350 animals seized from him.
Because of the lack of any regulation in India, dog shows are growing.  They are like a gathering of a mafia as their illegal transactions run into lakhs. The latest show  by the Gurgaon Kennel Club (Kennel Club of India) has been  charged with cruelty by The International Organisation for Animal Protection (OIPA) who has filed a police complaint under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 . All breeders are required to be registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India. None of the participants were. Nor did the show have AWBI permission for animals to perform.Puppies still feeding from their mothers were put on sale. Foreign participants did not have their dogs quarantined and probably just brought in the dogs to sell.The breeders defended their lack of AWBI registration by saying it is in Chennai. That’s like someone in Chennai not paying income tax because the government is in Delhi.

All that a pedigree certificate certifies is that the parents of the pup are registered with the Kennel Club. Even this  record is mostly a sham with many Kennel Clubs selling certification. These sham certificates declare dogs ‘pedigreed’ and push up their prices. The judge at a recent Agra Kennel Club Dog show was simply a man who runs a dog hostel.

To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in


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