Obesity In UK Show Dogs

13_walkingTheDogAs readers may be well aware, the obesity epidemic is by no means limited to humans – our pets are also affected (as, incidentally, are zoo animals).

A paper by Such and German, published in Veterinary Record, shows that a significant proportion of show dogs in the UK would be considered to have overweight or obesity.

The researchers did internet searches to identify 40 pictures per breed of 14 obese-prone dog breeds and 14 matched non-obese-probe breeds that had appeared at a major national UK show (Crufts). Of 1120 photographs initially identified, 960 were suitable for assessing body condition using a previously validated method, with all unsuitable images being from longhaired breeds.

None of the dogs (0%) were underweight, 708 (74%) were in ideal condition and 252 (26%) were overweight with pugs, basset hounds and Labrador retrievers were most likely to be in the latter category.

In contrast, standard poodles, Rhodesian ridgebacks, Hungarian vizslas and Dobermanns were least likely to be overweight.

In the discussion, the authors wonder whether or not breed standards should be redefined to be consistent with a dog in optimal body condition (read – body weight).

As someone, who could not really care less about breed standards and pedigrees (having shown dogs at dog shows myself as a kid), I find this paper of interest, as it reflects our thinking about appearances, that is by no means limited to animals.

The mental health and physical benefits of owning a dog are well-documented – whether they meet show standards or not, is probably not what determines their usefulness as (wo)man’s best friend.

Edmonton, AB